“Love makes trouble, love makes trouble,” I thought with every step.
I walked quickly to the pharmacy with my hood pulled tightly around my face. The morning rush hour traffic thrummed. I followed the grey sidewalk with my eyes down. I still couldn’t believe what had happened.
I had found him on the Internet. Really, no differently from the way I find my shoes and shirts online. Swipe left, swipe right.
He looked kind. Gentle. Intelligent. I had been hoping to find someone like him.
He seemed unlike some of the others I’ve seen online: “I’m a simple man. I like pretty dark-haired women,” wrote one; “I’m a professional staple remover. Lol, I don’t even have any visible skills,” wrote another.
Fools. Some men are like rotten fruit at the supermarket.
A quick exchange led to my first rendezvous with the kind, gentle one.
I met him by the water on a sunny summer evening. He was beautiful. He must have thought the same of me. Everything clicked.
Somehow, though, I knew I wouldn’t fall in love with him.
Thankfully, I wasn’t looking for love. Thankfully, I don’t think he was either.
We went slow, then suddenly, we went very fast. You know how it is, I’m sure. All you need is a spark. A moment alone. And it all unfurls.
It’s very strange to know someone’s body before you know their mind. It can be a dangerous thing. I should have known this would all lead to trouble, like drinking bleach without reading the warning label.
We did lots of things together. We went for evening walks. Leisurely bike rides. We played tennis. We discussed our careers. Our aspirations. Our past loves. And we ate pizza in the bathtub.
I was looking for someone like this — a companion.
We were there for each other until we weren’t. You know how it is, I’m sure. All you need is a spark. A moment of anger. And it all unfurls.
Why did we end? Well, you could say he didn’t like wrapping it up. We survived a little longer, but here I knew it would be the end.
This morning, I stepped into the pharmacy. I felt the stare of the store security guard on me, understandably so.
I must have looked like a shoplifter upon entering the store with my heavy cloak and hood pulled up. My avoidant gaze didn’t help. It betrayed guilt, though for a different sin. Normally, the attention of security would have made me self-conscious, but I barely noticed them today.
I walked to the back of the store with empty confidence. I caught the gaze of the pharmacist, who strolled over to the counter to meet me.
I began speaking, trying to make my voice sound calm and measured. I couldn’t look him in the eye, but I could sense kindness and sympathy from him when he responded. I was grateful for that. It dampened the shame inside me.
He fetched the product and returned, confirming: “That’ll be $29.99. Has it been within three days?” He said this almost in a whisper, as if he was hoping to protect my dignity.
I nodded to confirm, again grateful for his kind manner.
“Any questions?” he asked, before sliding the card reader in my direction.
I thought of last night and, in my bitterness, wanted to ask him, “Why is it that the woman must pay for the man’s mistake? For his moment of rashness? And why does she take on his shame, when it really ought to belong to him?”
I was quiet. I shook my head, paid, and left.
I felt better, lighter somehow. I had left some shame behind in the pharmacy. And I washed the rest away in the shower when I cleansed myself of last night’s sweat and semen.
I made myself breakfast. I enjoyed my oatmeal over a good vampire romance novel. I didn’t bother shedding any tears. I washed down my pill with water.